By Fazal Amin Beg
This evaluation study of societal development I conducted for a period of half a year contracted bythe Aga Khan Rural Support Program (AKRSP) in October 2006. Although, it was a five years’ evaluation study, it provided a great opportunity to look into the development intervention from an applied anthropological context, too that how conflicts merge among the community members if appropriate and effective approaches are neglected by the development practitioners, professionals and other stakeholders when a project or program is introduced within a sensitive community in the guise of untrusted forums or organizations of any level. Ultimately, skepticism spreads among different stakeholders on the one hand; and different interest groups emerge and strive to get maximum benefits to themselves at various scales.
Communities across the globe are normally seen through their lenses of diverse cultural backgrounds, but they have many similarities in terms of societal development perceptions and experiences as well, although variations and differences are integral parts of the human nature that hamper significantly in in the behavioral expressions at all times. And this holds ture also for Baltitan region in the Northern Pakistan.
It should be noted that it is not the full report but rather a summary of the detailed evaluation study of over 140 pages. The main purpose of sharing this summary is to provide an opportunity of getting access to the results of the study as a case with all the related stakeholders who are normally not aware of the development challenges and opportunities at various scales: communal, professional, civil society organizations, public sector organizations, religious and political forces and so on.
The upcoming sections of the study deals with the context and situation analysis of the development target community, the project area and study frame, key findings, conclusions and recommendations.
A Context and Brief Situation Analysis
Situated in the Karakoram mountain Region and within the Skardu district of Gilgit-Baltistan, The present Satpara Dam was constructed by the then Government of Pakistan in 2000s and by the munificent funding support of United States Agency for International Development (USAID) for the purpose of providing irrigation and drinking water on top priority; facilitating the local population with electric power; and managing the flooding disasters. Although, around its preferential and important objective, the Left Bank Canal (LBC) and Right Bank Canal (RBC) were also constructed, the community got divided on the basis of their indigenous rights over their natural resources such as water and land.Consequently a schism emerged and one is recognized as indigenous water right-holders and the other as non-indigenous water right-holder .
The indigenous water right-holders are of their just view that, as per Satpara Dam plan, unless the water body from Shatung (within the Deo Sai plateau watershed) is not diverted towards Satpara Dam, it cannot be provided to the non-indigenous water right-holders to the extent it is desired. But it needs to be recognized that each community on top of their village has their respective water bodies in the form of snow-avalanche stock and/or spring that feeds their land and other biodiversities, though in scarcity as glaciers are either absent or are very few. The issue thus evolved to be chronic with the course of time. In the aftermath , this issue also hampered in one way or the other over the Satpara Development Project (SDP) launched in March 2012.
Satpara Development Project (SDP) was thus initiated within the command area of Satpara dam comprised on four administrative setups of the Government at grassroots level including the union counsils (UCs) of hussainabad, municipal Area, Shigar-e Khurd and Shigar-e Kalan.
Although, apparently the area seems encircled within a homogenous society, it’s de facto heterogeneous and composed of diverse ethnic groups within the four UCs prominently reflected by their families, lineage groups, clans and tribes who have come from different side valleys of Baltistan, across the border in India from Kargil and Ladakh as well as from different parts of Gilgit region. In addition, the command area is dwelled by three main linguistic groups including predominantly Balti and then S̃hina and Burushaski language communities. Although, in terms of religious affiliation the whole population (over a hundred thousand people) belong to Islam, they embrace different schools of thoughts and practice included on predominantly Shia Ithna’asharia(Twelvers) and then Noorbakshi, Shia Ismailis and Sunni respectively.
Based on the modes of progress, SDP could be classified in two main phases: the initial two and a half years (March 2012-September 2014) may be termed as resistance and crisis period as mostly there prevailed series of challenges, conflicts and issues in different domains to accept the Project. The last two and a half year (October 2014-March 2017)could be termed as improvement and progress period.
In the first phase of its history, in the field, a significant chunk of community were reluctant to accept SDP as it was tagged internally by the staff members themselves and externally within the community by some interest groups as USAID project in place of USAID funded Project, or rather communicating de facto as AKRSP’s Project as it has already its goodwill in the area.
In such a customized situation, where the target community possess Americano-phobia and cordially rely for psychological satisfaction on the sweet melodies of beautiful Iran, it was thus highly difficult for many people among the local community to accept (rather strongly suspected ) SDP as USAID Project for their development and positive change of their societal destiny. As a result, some of the political and community leaders, embedded in their vested interests, shrewdly opted for and cashed putting on the religious dresses to openly malign the Project before the ordinary community members and that much was sufficient to confuse and mislead the naive community members and persuaded them to abstain in accepting the Project. The social mobilization and related management teams seem incapacitated or otherwise in such situation to clearly conceptualize the Project and convey positively the right messages at right time among the right people.
In the second phase, after learning lessons from their blunders, looking at the progress of those community members within their own four union councils, and even getting a marvelously green signal from the Supreme Shia leader, Khamanai, in Iran (who wrote them (as the key informants described) that there was no harm at all in getting USAID funding, if that is for positive development), the resisting target groups are observed taking part in the activities with enthusiasm.
There is still another dimension to look at and substantiate the aforesaid two phases of SDP’s life. In the first phase of the Project, out of the magnanimous 20 million U.S. dollars funding, lesser than five million dollars was spent with lesser amount of activities against the diverse interventions within the four components of SDP along with the crosscutting project commitments including social mobilization, environment and gender. In keeping view such situation, it was pessimistically anticipated by some professionals that in the next half period, if SDP retained the same pace in average if not deteriorated further, overall may be lesser than ten million dollars would be utilized against the planned interventions and activities and 10 million dollars would be taken back by USAID. Although, in the middle, some suspected that the Project may collapse. But the negative assumption turned out to be on the other way round.
In the second phase of SDP’s life, incredibly almost 15 million U.S. dollar was spent against the set targets in all components and the crosscutting themes, which is three times greater than the first phase in its financial volume. This phenomenon illustrates the amount of series of interventions and activities among the target groups on the one hand; and acceptance and enthusiasm of the target groups towards SDP.
The Project Study
This five years outcome evaluation study of Satpara Development Project (SDP), from March 2012 to March 2017 in a comparison with the earlier periods, may also be of high interest and significance as it will uncover many aspects in community development that were not yet seen from the perspectives of value-chain.
Based on the perceptions (emanating from the observations and experiences) of the target community of SDP, the study thus brings important aspects ahead on the radar of development initiators and practitioners as well as other key stakeholders so that to bring further improvements in strategizing community development in both rural and urban settings.
The study focuses on two areas of investigation contextually: 1) determine achievements of project’s results by keeping in view the objectives and indicators of Project Monitoring Plan (PMP); and assess the progress of SDP intervention; and 2) take into account operational and management aspects of the Project, challenges faced and redressal mechanism, and the Project approach on cross cutting themes of gender and environment.
For such reasons, the study attempts to explore getting answers for the following key queries connected with the set objectives: 1) explore changes among the community after SDP intervention in the target area by keeping in view the pre-SDP era; 2) Find out the emerging challenges, contributing factors and measures taken during the project life by the related management team and target community; 3) know and understand successes of SDP in relation with its key stakeholders; and inquire and analyze the key stakeholders strategies to sustain the initiatives in various fields of intervention such as on-farm irrigation channels, horticulture and dairy products within the value-chain and the required enabling environment to sustain related agriculture and livestock development.
Based on the qualitative tradition , the study therefore stems out of the extensive fieldwork of more than one and a half month conducted between last week of December 2016 to mid-February 2017, although some basic documents and reports were also reviewed before designing the study. In total, the evaluator with the facilitation of SDP colleagues carried out over 15 in-depth interviews and 24 Focus Group Discussions.
The detailed study report is divided into 12 sections so that to look at the development phenomena and societal change through different themes connected with the overall goals and objectives of SDP. But it’s noteworthy that here I present the Study Summary (out of 140 pages) is comprised (from here onward) on the SDp’s salient achievemens then moves towards conclusion and recommendations based on the encountered and experienced challenges and issues during the Project’s life
Key Achievements against the Set Targets
In spite of all the aforesaid bitter situations and experiences, SDP has left behind unusual marvels in community and enterprise development in a remote mountain area that utilizing positively such a huge budget in four union councils of Skardu alone (lesser than a hundred thousand people) for a limited time period of five years could be termed just a dream at least for those connected with the development practices in Gilgit-Baltistan and Chitral Region as well as in Pakistan.
As compared to AKRSP’s conventional model of addressing the poor and poverty at grassroots level, SDP thus proved to be on the opposite direction in some way. Although, component-1 was related with AKRSP’s early approaches of supplying water by improving and/or introducing new models of irrigation channels, component 2 & 3 particularly dealt with those community members who were relatively better-off or who had the defined assets of land, plants, livestock, early knowledge and skills and the like to meet the SDP’s specified eligibility criteria such as 30% share.
Within Component-1, apart from wonderful improvement/construction of secondary level (or minor) channels by the respective contractors (local and non-local) under SDP, introduction of Pre-Cast Parabolic Segments (PCPS) to address the genuine challenge of water for irrigation and other purposes at the tertiary level (mobilized and carried out by the community members through their water users associations) proved to be messiah for the poor local community. Although, confusions prevailed in the beginning regarding PCPS but they learned it sooner from their own personal experiences that the PCPS was highly effective particularly at plain areas as compared to other modes of channel such as PCP, RCC and the naturalistically traditional system of irrigation channels
In order to ensure that the land/soil is not caught up with diseases where upon the crops are cultivated, SDP supported the Government’s Agriculture Department in establishment of a spacious Soil Testing Laboratory in Skardu at the cost of 10 million Pakistani rupees. However, it was appealing and a source of inquisitiveness to know that the soil lab is not yet functional in spite of full facilitation by SDP.
One of the most attractive parts of SDP is its adoption of the value chain model for its intervention domains, as it initiates and supports the related target groups from the level of inputs such as certified seeds to the end with the consumers in the marketplace. But it’s also noteworthy that like the knowledge and skill development of a person in a computer’s hardware and software, SDP exactly opted for and continued its support in the program side by providing them the necessary inputs (as hard side of the program) on the one hand; and imparting various types of related trainings, workshops, exposure visits (as the sof side of the program) against each interventions and activities to increase their knowledge and skills.
Once the water resources got incredibly channeled to the respective communities, the horticultural interventions and activities (within Component 2) firmly stepped their paces towards the desired destinations. Organized and mobilized around their respective women enterprise groups (FEGs). The FEGs of vegetable farming (composed of almost women) wonderfully contributed towards their domestic and market aspirations within and out of Skardu city . A great precedence can be witness in March 2016 when the Karakoram Highway (KKH) and the main skardu road blocked after a heavy rain, the SDP fostered greenhouses supplied fresh vegetables to and continued dominantly in the local markets for fifteen days.
Although, open space/field vegetable farms have their own vital role as they accommodate commercial vegetables on at least two kanals of land and proved highly receptive among the target groups, of highest inspiration among and out of the target communities however remained and spread swiftly was the intervention of greenhouses when resultantly more than 350 greenhouses were established by SDP among the target groups. The impact of vegetable greenhouses could be seen in terms of people’s interest, thirst and thrust of establishing the units of greenhouses on their own when they observed the utility in line with domestic and commercial contexts. But, above all, SDP initiated in providing the vegetable farming entrepreneurs with certified seeds so that to nurture them properly and contribute usefully towards the productive. The yields of produces as described above can be considered evidence in this regard.
The formation of six commercial nurseries within the SDP’s command area is another landmark initiative as in the history of the whole of Gilgit-Baltistan Region, for the first time such certified nurseries by Federal Seed Certification and Research Department (FSC&RD) were brought into existence, despite the fact the government has established dozens of nurseries and AKRSP earlier than SDP facilitated the VWOs in nurseries but not certified. These nurseries thus are feeding units for the related orchards. on the other, owners of these nurseries are engaged with selling the plants to other clients in their contact and hence earning from their respective lucrative enterprises.
Though, orchard development has already been in vogue and may not be termed new, it’s important to note that commercial fruit orchards with new approaches as one fruit plant, one field can be termed as pioneering championed by SDP. For instance, if a tract of land is specifically devoted to apple and/or its varieties, in the same manner another tract of land is dedicated for apricot and its varieties, and still another field assigned for cherries. The outcomes of these interventions are awaited as they will involve some time, although already the results are observed positive and encouraging by the respective orchard owners.
In connection with livestock intervention and dairy production, highly significant results are witnessed again in relation with value chain requirements ranging from inputs to the end with dairy products and sale to the clients. Although, various types of approaches in natural order are still in practice among the dairy farmers such as the traditional Balti system of animal crossbreed (yak versus cow) and AKRSP’s introduced jersey and friesen bulls, the artificial insemination (AI) application by human over the local cows and production of improved breeds, like many other interventions, is the first ever initiative in the area introduced by SDP and is observed as a historic milestone. It’s striking to note that in relation with this intervention, no resentment are observed within the frame of religion or otherwise. However, it’s to be noted that concerns were shown in terms of lack of expertise in a couple of AI technicians out of over 10 leading towards some unsuccessful cases. But it’s highly remarkable that over six thousand cattle breeds have been produced by these local AI technicians.
Consequently, such huge number of animal breeds have thus attracted other people out of the area within and out of Baltistan to opt for tending the respective animals and on the other to use them for commercial purposes. It was unusual to know that in 2016 alone, over forty million rupees of transaction was made in this regard between the businesspersons from the adjacent Diamar district and the improved breed owners of the area.
It should be noted that the steps do not end here at production of hybrid animals through AI but rather it proceeds ahead towards production of hygienically recommended feeds and fodders for them as well as the required and suggested animal-sheds to produce milk in an enhanced and huge quantity. SDP therefore focused on local entrepreneurs to take up the mission ahead, particularly focusing one of them on a test basis. The respective entrepreneur was provided full training and his capacity was built to produce feeds and fodders for the dairy farmers on top priority. The gentleman thus has become in making the mulberry blocks and other types of feeds by focusing on those cows of the dairy farms on the one hand, the dairy farmers benefit from the recommended feeds and fodders; and on the other the mulberry block-maker has got self-employment and earns significant level of profits and fulfils the needs of his and his family members.
In a sharp contrast to the traditionally practicing approaches, establishing the improved animal-sheds as the next connected intervention could be seen as another landmark achievement of SDP. The cattle were not cared in many respects. No due attention was paid towards the shed’s structures in terms of fresh air and lighting, feeds and water provision in hygienic domain and so on. At present all such considerations have been made and the animal-sheds are quite different: availability of fresh air and light through proper ventilation system, sun bath in a separate portion, manger system for feeds, tap water for drinking purpose within the shed in a bucket, cemented floor, and cleaning system, dung dumping and storage out of the shed in a pit; manure processing in the pit; and so on. Consequently, the quality and quantity of milk has significantly enhanced as informed by owners of dairy farmers in an FGD.
The dairy farmers are connected in the market with a Milk Collection and Processing Center fostered by SDP. As there are various Milk collection points and resultantly , a huge amount of milk gets supplied to this center and the respective entrepreneur and workers process them to ensure the hygienic aspect and quality before the milk is sold to the consumers.
Within Component-3,besides the abovementioned horticultural interventions in Component-2, SDP also initiated for preservation and commercialization of the wasted fruits (such as apricots, cherries and mulberries, within the existing traditional orchards. For this purpose, after formation of the amazing women processing groups (WPGs) and few Processing Groups (PGs) the activities of the intervention was successfully accomplished through them as WPGs were the interface and communication mechanisms or sources of interactions between SDP and the target groups. Hundred of fruit dehydration units were granted to the women and they were given a range of related trainings set within the value chain (such as looking after the plants, harvesting grading and processing the fruits). Ultimately, their capacity was built in the respective intervention field.
These dehydration units at household level are thus linked with the only Fruit processing center in skardu city fostered by SDP, where those already processed and dried fruits are again graded, processed and packaged. At this stage, the dehydrated fruits are thus made ready for sale in different markets within Skardu and Gilgit-Baltistan, on the one hand; and at national level up to Islamabad and Lahore, on the other. the related women have thus been struggling in marketing and sale, too, although they haven’t got yet the opportunity and capacity at that level yet.
Interesting enough again, for the first time in the history of the area, the farming entrepreneurs within the target groups have been linked to the markets by introducing market Information system (MIS by bringing in use the modern information technologies such as mobiles and computers of the related entrepreneurs. Various relevant updates are shared with the concerned entrepreneurs such as rates of the vegetables, fruits and other occurrence in the local, national and international markets. The entrepreneurs are thus capacitated about the market trends.
In Component-4, two main land mark achievements could be evidenced in support of the earlier three components concerning water, agriculture, agri -businesses and other related matters. As so far there is no defined policies and/or regulations at the entire Gilgit-Baltistan level on the subject matter, SDP team in consultation with the community through their initiated social forums (such as water users associations, their networks and LSOs) on the one hand; and the related political representatives along with the respective senior officials in the Government Departments (Agriculture, Livestock and Water management) on the other, managed to facilitate them in moving ahead to form Water Management Board (based on the model of public-private partnership), and formulation of agriculture and livestock policies and regulations as in seven decades period of its history these departments are devoid of any written policies. Through these initiatives, the underlying issues and challenges vis-à-vis water management and agriculture is anticipated to effectively be addressed.
Apart from the four components, exciting achievements are also evidenced within the Crosscutting Project Areas of SDP.
Although, in the first phase of SDP’s life, enormous challenges and issues are witnessed on the way, along with the senior management, the credit certainly goes to social and business mobilization teams, who acted like ambassadors of the Project and psychologists of the community and struggled to extensively read, understand and prepare the minds and mobilize the respective target groups within various fascinating interventions .achievements in component-1 could be seen in terms of formation of over two hundred and fifty water users associations (WUAs at tertiary level of irrigation channels), their networks and mobilization for farmers organization (FOs) at minor level of irrigation channels. The success behind the irrigation channels, particularly at tertiary level, is strong social mobilization, as for the failure in the initial phase of SDP was weak mobilization mainly responsible.
Within Component 2-3, performance of business mobilization could also be seen outstanding as formation of dozens of Farmers Enterprise Groups (FEGs), Women Processing Groups (WPGs), Processing Groups (PGs), their networks leading towards farmers cooperative society are the testimonies of the respective mobilization. Behind the success of all alluring interventions in Component 2-3 remained undoubtedly the mobilization on the front.
Through its consistent sensitization, awareness raising programs, lobbying and advocacy, the gender aspect in the Project could also be observed and evidenced highly significant, particularly in component 2-3 where it remained outstandingly central as the WPGs, FEGs PGs are the indicators. In component 1, a woman each has been given representation in management committee, maintenance committee and audit committee of each WUAs, but it was highly attractive to see that women in Hussainabad and MC Area broadly initiated for female WUAs, which is incredible in the given constricted socio-cultural environment when seen across with women’s chores. However, in the upcoming Water management Board, no women has given representation yet, although hope are there to encourage them on this forum, too.
Around its specific mandates, the highly important environmental aspects could be observed significant in the second phase of the Project’s life, while in the first phase it sounds like a disorder or otherwise in managing the states of affairs. Among other priorities and considerations, Health and Safety as a new initiative to be focused and watched within the environmental realm remained highly valuable, particularly persuading the labors and contractors in Component-1; and the respective members in the FEGs, WPGs and PGs in addition to other interventions within component 2-3.
SDP contributed not only towards addressing the dire need of water connectivity for irrigation purpose but also towards enhancing the productivity of horticulture and dairy production in a true sense by following the steps within the value-chain. Moving ahead, it then focused on processing and marketing of the horticultural and dairy products by bringing in use and exercising various methods and learning from the field. The bottlenecks and underlying issues embedded within the political and bureaucratic regimes hampering over and already in prevalence were effectively addressed by lobbying and in consultation with the respective stakeholders so that to come up with consolidated policies and regulations related with agriculture, livestock and water management.
SDP could be termed as the Project of exceptional initiatives in the local context as it comprises on introduction of PCPS; establishment of PCPS factory in the area; introduction of WUAs; formation of FEGs, WPGs and PGs; systematic commercialization of horticulture produces; rural women entrepreneurs in horticulture; certified vegetable seeds; certified commercial nurseries; commercial orchards; introduction of advanced level of dehydration units; establishment of fruit processing center; artificial insemination; improved animal-sheds; enterprise of mulberry blocks as feed for the animals; milk collection and processing center; moving towards water Management Board; and struggling for the formulation of agricultural policies and regulation in the region.
The interventions and related activities along with various capacity building programs such as trainings and workshops among the target groups on the one hand and the carried out practices and acquired experiences by them on the other have led towards a significant level of knowledge and skill enhancement in a real sense.
The disagreement on water resources between indigenous water right-holder and non-indigenous right-holders has brought a golden opportunity of interdependence between both groups in line with water and land possession leading towards water trading.
Mobilization of the farming community members, particularly the rural women, towards commercialization of some horticulture and dairy enterprises has led towards a green revolution in the field of agriculture and livestock.
Opposed to the pre-SDP era, at present women are out of the dependence loop and incredibly contributing towards their own personal needs, their children’s education, health emergencies, even in many ccases providing money to their male counterparts and the like.
Lobbying and advocacy through series of meetings, workshops, dialogues and consultations with the related stakeholders is leading towards enabling environment for water rights and management, agriculture and livestock, and other related sectors , as so far in seventy years no related policies and regulations have come up by various governments in Gilgit-Baltistan.
The various types of entrepreneurial initiatives have not only led towards self-employment but rather series of employment opportunities those entrepreneurs have created for others related with and needed by their enterprises.
SDP provided the related target communities the golden opportunities in many respects from the formation of the respective social and entrepreneurial forums (WUAs and their networks, FEGs, WPGs and their networks, farmers cooperative society and the like) to grants in numerous fields.
In contrary to the earlier period of SDP, a highly significant number of the population in the local markets got attracted towards local horticultural produces and dairy products because of their higher quality and lower rates.
Opposed to the worldviews before SDP, The importance of agri-businesses are now critically realize among the local population and the related entrepreneurs have become source of motivation for other segments within the target community as well as the region.
1. Although, the indigenous water right-holders have developed consensus among themselves for water trading, the non-indigenous water right holders are also ready for such kind of commercial transaction. in such situation, both groups have win-win position and never win-loose position. In this connection, before its exit from the area, SDP along with AKRSP need to play their vital roles to materialize the notion of water-trading strategy.
2. Once SDP comes to its logical end as role of WUAs in post-completion management and maintenance of tertiary water channels could be termed as seriously questionable because the members of WUAs are not clear about their future once SDP exits. What could be the roles of the related civil society organizations such as the upcoming Farmers Organizations (FOs), LSOs, AKRSP and the like? What could the respective public sector organizations do such as departments of Water Management and Agriculture? What could be the roles and responsibilities of the proposed Water Board? more deliberations and practical steps therefore need to be taken in this connection by SDP within its one year of extension.
3. Social and business mobilization as well as the gender teams need to play their vital roles directly immersing among the target groups and whole community by arranging effective sessions, events and exposure trips for women entrepreneurial groups. By involving and through the religious institutions, community organizations and local media (both electronic and print), highly significant level of mobilizations could be anticipated for women enterprises.
4. The Local Support Organizations (LSOs) could be effective, if facilitated by SDP, to liaise with the concerned public sector organizations and related NGOs to look for and supply the certified seeds for the FEGs and other farmers as this is and would be a critical issue.
5. Although, internally within the respective FEGs and their networks, the farmers can contribute and purchase carriage-vehicles like Suzukis and Datson to transport the concerned vegetables to the markets, externally, the SDP, AKRSP and other related organizations may help reach LSOs with carriage-vehicles for transportation at each UC level.
6. Number of stores need to be increased by taking into accounts the increasing level of farmers interests, activities and positive results.
7. The current artificial Insemination (AI) technicians need further trainings and more human resources need to be produced based on merit and competency.
8. More and more improved breeds will get produced in the near future. But to what extent, the dairy farmers would be able to sustain and provide them with appropriate animal-sheds as introduced by SDP, feeds and proper health care will be an invaluable question. On the other, the huge amount of improved breeds have been looking and getting for themselves in the markets of the Region. effective deliberation and plan for a holistic development in this field is the need of the time.
9. SDP needs to further develop and sustain the linkages and relationships of the related entrepreneurs and their groups before it exits from the area. On the other, the enterprise groups would also need to build on those contacts themselves so to cherish and sustain their entrepreneurial connections together, otherwise all the efforts concerning the linkages and marketing may hold less productive.
10. Although, FEGs Network and farming entrepreneurs cooperative society as a legal entity and professional mechanism has been brought into existence. Through such mechanisms the interventions and the structural entities need to be prudently sustained in the future and appropriate measures need to be taken to ensure quality and competency in the products.
11. The Advanced fruit Processing Center needs further improvements by looking for its certification, linkages and the like so that to transform it in a viable enterprise. And if becomes feasible for SDP and AKRSP, more fruit processing centers of such nature need to be established in the region to cater the dire needs of the mountain communities related with wastage of fruits.
12. Big stores for the fresh and dried fruits need to be established, if possible, so that to market them on reasonable prices as the farming entrepreneurs need to wait for right time to market and sell their produces and products.
13. On top priority, series of effective programs and sessions with intervals around the calendar years need to be framed for the social mobilization teams so that when they are in the field among the respective target groups and community, the team members hold be capable enough to play their effective roles and perform their responsibilities with a confidence and pride by acting like diplomats and/or ambassadors of their organization.
14. Although, apparently the gender aspect within the Project sounds fascinating in SDP, sustenance of such initiatives with high level of backup by AKRSP as a whole should be on top of its entrepreneurial development agenda for women of the area and region.
15. Series of practical demonstrations along with trainings, workshops, debates, poetical contests, other artistic involvement and so on related with environmental issues and current discussions need to be conducted for the concerned people so to sensitize them to a greater extent.
16. It’s essential that in the near future, LSOs should be encouraged, prepared and facilitated to venture to implement at least a quarter of such types of projects like SDP. For this purpose, whenever such Projects are launched, LSOs should be onboard and on the planned agenda also with high focus on their practical and time to time trainings in line with high level of transparent governance and efficient management.
17. Above all, SDP’s five years development experiments in the wonderful social laboratory clearly shows and supports that unless and until human resources are hired on the basis of pure merit and competency in practice, effective and efficient delivery of the mandates of a project or program of an organization becomes like a sick person or animal that chooses whether or not to walk, whether or not to eat. It’s therefore highly imperative to always opt not only for hiring the human resources based on pure merit but also based on pure competency. In the same manner, in the second stage, the intended interventions and grants of the projects or programs ought to be based on merit, competency and deservingness.
This study would never have accomplished without the wholehearted participation of all the respected key informants and respondents within SDP and in the field with the target community in the command area. I’d therefore like to express my heartfelt gratitude to all them individually.
My deep appreciation and high gratitude goes to Melad-ul Karim, Chief of the Party (COP) of Satpara Development Project (SDP) and thanks also to Muzaffar-Din, General Manager of AKRSP, for their kind trust and expectation of successfully conducting this invaluable evaluation study five years of the Project. like other studies of AKRSP I have carried out earlier, this study also provided me a wonderful taste and experience, indeed, particularly in the chilly months of the winter season in Skardu, where with the encouragement and facilitation of my young colleagues and kind respondents, I was able to dissolve the snow and ice of December 2016 and January 2017 from my powerful energy and enthusiasm of fieldwork.
My cordial and special indebtedness and thanks goes to my friend Qayyum Ali shah, former value-chain specialist of SDP and now in Norwegian Refugees Council serving as the Program Head for Southern Yemen, for all his compassions and particularly for providing me opportunity and space in his house at Skardu and extending his sincere and unforgettable hospitality during this study. After he left for Yemen, he handed me over his house along with all his important stuffs in trust to enable me for conducting the study successfully.
I’m obliged to Sajjad Akram, Monitoring and Evaluation Specialist, for his soft behavioral advice, reflections on the study design and tools of data collection in addition to timely follow-up of this study. Likewise, I’m also thankful to my colleague Musa Baig, evaluator of this same study from the quantitative side, for his initial discussions and feedbacks about developing the study instruments.
I own a great indebtedness to Ghulam Abbas, Acting Value Chain Specialist, for all his wholehearted facilitation in professional and friendly context time and again. Likewise, thanks to Qurban and Asif, the related officers in the program side.
My special thanks goes to the social and business mobilization teams of SDP for their facilitation in arranging the Key Informant Interviews (KIIs) and focus group discussions (FGDs) in the field. Without their professional support, it would have become not so easy to gather the information from the field in an effective manner.
During the fieldwork, 11 enthusiastic and young colleagues of mine from M&E to the program and HR side extended their facilitation towards me for the notes-taking of the KIIs and FGDs. I would therefore like to express my sincere gratefulness to all of them in alphabetical order including Ali Asqoli, Azeema Mehdi, Basharat Ali, Ilyas Hussain, Liaqat Hussain, Naik Bano, Naila Rizvi, raza Muhammad, Samreen Amjad, Shazia Maryam and Tehzeeb-ul Hassan. I am also grateful to Sadaqat Husain and all his team members for the logistical support in time.
I’m so much grateful to my highly respected brother Ghulam Amin Beg for his ever care and particularly looking after my family for such a long time in his house in Gilgit while I was in Skardu and Islamabad for over five months following the study. Even after the field work, strategically I have left my family still in his house so that to concentrate on this important study in trust with me. Likewise, I’m thankful to my younger sister Hussan Zareen Beg, Police Inspector, for taking care of my children.
Special gratitude goes to my young nephews, Mazdak Gibran Beg and Kamran Ali for the painstaking in reviewing spelling errors within their capacity in this report.
Last but never the least, I’m so much grateful to both of my beloved and school-going daughters, Fazila Roshan Beg and Surush Ayman Beg, who have been missing me for such a long time in isolation (and likewise vice versa) and it’s their sacrifice to bear with me as they know I’m living for them and not for myself to facilitate their lives through my professional endeavors to the level best I could contribute .
Acronyms and Abbreviations
AKF Aga Khan Foundation
AKRSP Aga Khan Rural Support Program
COP Chief Operation Officer
EDF environmental documentation Files
FEGs Farmers Enterprise groups
FGD Focus Group Discussion
GBC Gilgit-Baltistan and Chitral
KIIs Key Informant Interviews
LSOs Local support Organizationss
PGs Processing groups
SDP Satpara development Project
USAID United States Agency for International development
VO Village Organization
WPGs Women Processing Groups
VWOs Village and Women Organizations
WO Women Organization
WUAs Water Users Associations